According to Abel Tweed, Vice Chairman of Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), one of the three major groups fighting against Burma's military rulers, a ceasefire agreement would lead to nothing but total submission to tyranny. He was referring to the planned peace talks between the Shan State Army (SSA) South and the Burma Army last week that failed to materialize. To prove his point, Tweed showed S.H.A.N. a document he had received from a high-level Thai security officer years back. The said officer had claimed to have picked the information up from a senior official from the now defunct Military Intelligence Service (MIS).
The human rights situation deteriorated during the year, as the authorities stepped up repression against both armed and peaceful political opposition throughout the country. The UN Security Council placed Myanmar on its formal agenda. Widespread and systematic violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, amounting to possible crimes against humanity, were committed in the course of military activities in Kayin State and Bago Division. As the authorities continued with plans to draft a new Constitution, activists were pressured into resigning from political parties. Scores of arrests continued throughout the year of people engaged in peaceful political activities or other non-violent exercise of the right to freedom of expression and association. At the year end most senior opposition figures were imprisoned or administratively detained, among more than 1,185 political prisoners held in deteriorating prison conditions. At least two people were sentenced to death.
Three mounted amphibians were seen positioned near Tachilek's Shwe Dagon pagoda replica on Wednesday, 23 May, the day Burma's military authorities were to meet representatives from the Shan State Army (SSA) South, according to sources on the border. "They were moved back to Light Infantry Battalion 331 post, where they have been stationed since 2001 during the Thai-Burma confrontation, " said a long-time resident. "Dishonest people don't trust others", commented another. "They are always in fear of being double crossed."
Planned cease-fire talks between the Burmese government and rebel group Shan State Army (SSA) collapsed yesterday, as the two sides could not agree on the venue for discussions. The meeting was initially set to take place at a hotel in Tak, on the northwestern border with Burma. But citing safety reasons, SSA leader Col Chao Yodsuek decided to call off the talks, following a report that the Burmese junta wanted the meeting to be held in the Burmese town of Tachilek, adjacent to Mae Sai district in Chiang Rai. ''We'd better find a venue where we both feel more secure and relaxed,'' Col Chao Yodsuek said, directing his message to the junta. ''Then I would come to meet you no matter where, in Rangoon or Naypyidaw.'' Shortly after he spoke, the SSA was reported to have stepped up control of its troops for fear of new clashes.
The planned historic meeting between the Burma Army and Shan State Army (SSA) South on the border today was postponed indefinitely after the Burma Army delegation failed to appear at the venue, according to SSA leader Col Yawdserk. Speaking from his Loi Taileng base, opposite Thailand's Maehongson, the 50-year old commander expressed his "disappointment" that the meeting failed to take place as planned. "I hope both sides will regard this only as a temporary setback, as it will truly be in the interests of all those concerned if we can meet sometime in the near future."
Representatives from the Burmese military’s Triangle Region Command in Shan State have met members of the Shan State Army at a secret location near the Thai-Burmese border to negotiate a ceasefire agreement, according to sources close to the Shan rebels. Col Yawd Serk, leader of the Shan State Army (South)—the strongest of Burma’s armed ethnic opposition groups—agreed to talk to Burmese military officials by way of Thai military negotiators, the sources said.
The Shan State Army (SSA) must strive to be a disciplined armed organization worth its salt, according to a prepared speech by Col Yawdserk, Chairman of its political arm Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) yesterday, the day the Shan resistance turned 49, to his troops at Loi Taileng, opposite Maehongson. "If we don't have discipline, it's not worth the reliance placed upon us by the people," he said instructing wayward elements to reduce the burden off the people's shoulders.
Not for the first time in decades, different Shans groups came together last weekend to set out on the creation of a state council that will speak for the diverse racial groups inhabiting Burma's largest state. The meeting, held at an unspecified venue along the Thai-Burma border, 18-19 May, and attended by 54 representatives and specially invited individuals from both at home and abroad, did not stipulate how much power the said council, expected to be formed within a year, should be delegated to.
The former Shan State Army (SSA) South commander who had grabbed headlines by declaring independence and then surrendering to the Burma Army both within a span of one year has recently received funds from Naypyidaw to rebuild his forces against his erstwhile boss Col Yawdserk, according to ceasefire and civilian sources. "We weren't told exactly how much," said a local close to the 180-strong militia force led by Col Moengzuen, former commander of the SSA's 758th Brigade and former commander-in-chief of the splinter group SSA Central. "Only that it was more than 10 million kyat. In addition, he also received 4 trucks, 2 four-wheels and 2 six-wheels."
Various news items and letter contents:
1: 59 Former Heads of State Call for Release of World's Only Imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize Recipient
2: The Letter of 59 Former Heads of State Call For Burma to Release World’s Only Imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
3: UN RIGHTS EXPERTS CALL FOR THE RELEASE OF DAW AUNG SAN SUU KYI AND ALL REMAINING POLITICAL PRISONERS
4: Ex-Leaders Demand Myanmar Free Suu-Kyi
5: The world's senior statesmen call for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Dear All Peace Lovers! We would like to invite all of you to join our third time peace walk from New York to Washington DC. This peace march will take 21 days from May 30th to June 19th. The motto is everything is nothing without peace.
For many refugees from all over the world, Australia has become a sanctuary away from the fighting and fears of their homelands. One such country of conflict is Burma (more recently renamed Myanmar), a land previously known as "Shwe Pyi Daw" or "The Golden Country," reflecting the hundreds of golden Buddhist pagodas throughout the land. Approximately 2 million ethnic minority peoples in Burma are internally displaced within their own country and over 200,000 Burmese refugees have been forced to flee their country to foreign shores such as Thailand, Bangladesh and India. In Australia, there have been waves of Burmese entrants since 1962. Initially, approximately 6,000 "Anglo-Burmese" migrants (a term referring to the offspring of European-Burmese marriages during the British colonial period) arrived in Australia. These people were educated middle class, who had a sound knowledge of English and consequently, found little difficulty in settling into life here.
The first section considers the status of displaced people in terms of international standards, specifically those embodied in the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. Some analysts describe this form of population movement as “economic migration” since it has an economic dimension. The report argues that the coercive nature of the pressures which contribute to the collapse of the household economy brings population movement squarely into the field of forced migration. The second section is geographically organised. The report looks at those parts of Burma not covered by the Thailand Burma Border Consortium and concentrates on the conflict and post-conflict areas of Eastern Burma. It hardly touches on conflict-induced displacement since most parts of Burma covered in these pages, including the major cities, are government-controlled, and there is little overt military conflict.
Shan monkhood should remain refuge for different sections of the Shan society and stay above politics, Shan State Army (SSA) South leader Col Yawdserk recently told a two-day assembly of Shan monks held at his main base of Loi Taileng, opposite Maehongson. "They should remain nonaligned and neutral," said 50 year old Yawdserk, whose official title in Chairman, Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), the political arm for the SSA. "We would like to see them as strict observers of the Vinaya (the monastic code of discipline), Pariyatti (study of the scriptures) and Patipatti (practice of the Teachings). They should also teach the people and all groups to love each other."
Thai officials have stepped up security along their borders because of fears that substantial stockpiles of illicit drugs await in neighboring countries for transport to the kingdom. “We estimate that five million narcotic pills have been stored in neighboring countries and are ready to be carried into Thailand,” said Kitti Limchaikij, the secretary-general of Thailand’s Narcotics Control Board, on Wednesday. He added that there are significant problems with drugs being stored in areas populated by ethnic minority groups, which make it difficult for Thai officials to investigate.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received detailed information about two men in Burma who have been imprisoned for allegedly possessing videos showing the wedding of the daughter of the country's senior most army officer. Ko Than Htun and Ko Tin Htay were arrested separately in March and convicted in April of having intended to incite public fear and for violations of video censorship regulations. Although there was no evidence at all against Tin Htay, he was sentenced to two years' imprisonment, and Than Htun to four and a half.
The Salween River the longest free-flowing river in Southeast Asia is being literally "cut" to pieces. The river is to be dammed in more than four places by Salween countries Burma, Thailand and China. The proposal envisages constructing dams to generate hydroelectric power from the entire river basin and divert water to Thailand. The plans involve a series of large dams along the meandering course of the river, in southern China and the eastern states of Burma.
One should not give up hoping for the best when it comes to resolving by peaceful means Burma's long standing problems, but one should also be prepared against the worst to defend one's rights by military means, said Col Yawdserk, leader of the Shan State Army (SSA) "South" yesterday. "Hkun Tun Oo (leader of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy-SNLD) didn't have a military force," the 50-year old Yawdserk told the latest batch of fighters who recently completed their basic course. "He was only seeking a peaceful solution that would keep the country unified. He was nevertheless accused of trying to destroy the union and shamelessly convicted."
A fire base under repairs by the Shan State Army (SSA) South's Kengtung Front, opposite Chiangrai's Mae Fa Luang district, was showered with machine gun fire from the Burma Army's Maemaw base yesterday. The exchange of fire lasted about 5 minutes, 16:55-17:00 local time. Nobody was reported hurt. There was also no report of further clash. A Shan officer said, "With the Regional Border Committee (RBC) meeting (between Thailand and Burma) as well as the Tri-annual meeting (of top Burmese commanders) coming up within the next week, carelessness is something we can hardly afford." The Kengtung Front's Loi Kawwan base has been attacked several times in the past by the Burma Army all without success.
This brief publication introduces the general public to the methods of nonviolent struggle being used to oppose, undermine or refuse cooperation with military rule in Burma/Myanmar. Many reports have focused on opposition activities involving a variety of ethnic minority groups, resident within Burma/Myanmar, who have been engaged in an armed struggle against the military regime virtually since the end of colonial rule.
issued February 2006
The PaO National Army (PNA) that had concluded a ceasefire agreement with Burma's ruling military junta 16 years earlier is in a quandary as the 2007 deadline to declare areas under its sway drug-free draws near, according to a reliable source in southern Shan State. "PNA members were among some of the recent arrests made by the drug enforcement officials," said the source who requested anonymity, "and they have greatly embarrassed the group and its leader Aung Kham Hti".
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) today submitted the case of two human rights defenders brutally attacked last week in Burma to the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders. On April 18, 2007, U Myint Naing and U Maung Maung Lay were leaving Oatpone township after conducting a human rights training session. Their group of about ten was traveling in the direction of Taluttaw on two motorcycles when they were attacked by about 50 people carrying slingshots and sticks. While the first motorcycle managed to escape the violence, the second motorcycle which U Myint Naing and U Maung Maung Lay were riding was stopped and the two men were viciously beaten.
Both Shan and Thai border units have been placed on the alert following reports of the arrival of a Burma Army-United Wa State Army (UWSA) joint force opposite Maehongson's Pang Mapha district on Thursday, 19 April, according to border sources. A 200-strong joint force led by Col Than Tin Aung, area commander for Mongton township, across Maehongson and Chiangmai provinces, in 21 four-wheel trucks turned up at Wan-mai, the scene of heavy fighting between the Burma Army-UWSA expeditionary force and the Shan State Army two years earlier. "The bases surrounding the Loi Taileng base of the SSA were inspected from 08:00-12:00 before his return," said a source close to the Thai military. The month long attack on Loi Taileng was called off after the alliance reportedly suffered at least 700 casualties.
Despite growing international pressure, the military junta has not released its iron grip on the media. Burma’s most renowned journalist, U Win Tin, laureate of the Reporters Without Borders - Fondation de France 2006 prize, spent his 76th birthday in his prison cell. The privately-owned press is still subjected to unrelenting advance censorship. The information ministry blows hot and cold on both the private press and foreign journalists. New titles were granted publication titles on several occasions in 2006. And in October, foreign journalists, some of whom had been banned from the country for years, were invited to cover the resumption of the work of the convention drawing up a new constitution.
Contrary to official claims, northern Shan State which has been under a stringent opium ban since the 2001-2002 season, has had a bumper crop in the latest season ending last month, according to sources coming to the border. Most of the opium production, they say, was in areas under the control of the Burma Army and pro-Burma Army militia. Hundreds of poppy farmers from the United Wa State Army controlled territory along the Chinese border reportedly moved into the Mawfa area under the Burma Army command, southwest of Panghsang, following the zero-production declaration by the Wa leadership in June 2005.
Chin Students’ Union strongly condemns the summary execution of three village headmen on April 07, 2007, in Southern Chin State by troops from Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 104 and LIB 304 under Tactical Operation Command II, based in Matupi headed by Colonel San Aung. We are gravely overwhelmed with sorrow and anguish upon the execution of three village headmen, namely Hung Ling (25) of Cun-Nam village, Maung Khe (32) of Lung-Phune village, Ting Co of Sangseh village and the missing of two villagers namely Khin Maung Oo and Tin Ceu of Sangseh village. We extend our deepest condolence to the murdered victim’s families who were extra-judicially executed by the Burmese Army.
Mizzima News had to go through two very difficult days and it would not have been possible to overcome it without the timely actions and generous support of organizations and individuals around the world. Press freedom groups such as the South East Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA),International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX), Reporters without Borders (RSF), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Burma Media Association (BMA), International Media Support (IMS), Burma News International (BNI) and the International Press Institute (IPI) have supported us when we were in dire need of solidarity. We thank each and every one of them for their immediate actions in writing to the Indian authorities to reopen our office.
Burma News International, a network of ten Burmese news organizations, urges Indian authorities to immediately reopen the main office of Mizzima News Group, in Viskaspuri, New Delhi, India, which was sealed off on Monday. Aung Naing, development officer of BNI, said, "It is crucial for democratic country like India to have access to independent news sources like Mizzima". BNI learnt that the office of Mizzima News Group, one of the network members of BNI was sealed off with the reason of running business in residential area.
Burmese Prime Minister Soe Win will retire "very soon" due to poor health, a well-placed government source said Wednesday. Information Minister Brigadier General Kyaw Hsan acknowledged at a press conference last month that General Soe Win had gone to Singapore for a health check-up for ailments typical of a man his age. Should Soe Win retire, his most likely successor will be Lieutenant-General Thein Sein, Secretary-1 of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), as Burma's ruling junta styles itself, sources said.
Starting from April 7, 2007 the SPDC military clique launches a military operation against the base area of the KNLA 7th Brigade, in Pa-an District of the KNU. In this operation, LIBs 231, 355, 356, 546, 98 and 28 from MOC-12, and some DKBA units are being used. With regard to this, we, the KNU, issue a statement as follows.
Detained Shan leader Khun Tun Oo will be giving alms on Sunday, 16 April, according to a source close to his family in Rangoon. The day coincides with wannao (Akyat Nay in Burmese), which is according to tradition the day of transition from the old year to the New Year. Khun Tun Oo, 64, who is being held in Kachin State's Putao, will be offering vermicelli to the local monks. "We invite all those who love him and freedom to rejoice in his merit-making and pray for the speedy freedom of all the political prisoners", he said.
Letters urging that ceasefire groups be disarmed have been distributed by an unknown group in Shan State early this month, according to residents. The letters distributed in markets in Tantyam Township in northern Shan State said "No more arms. We want peace. It has been 15 years since there was ceasefire between armed groups and the Tatmadaw. Now they need to give up their arms".
Tens of thousands of villagers could be displaced and a fragile ecosystem destroyed by a hydropower project on northeastern Myanmar's Salween River, an international conservation group said Thursday. Construction began earlier this year on the Ta Sang hydropower plant, which includes a dam, in a joint venture between Myanmar's government and Thai power producer MDX Group.